Some may be asking what Pokémon Go is? And what Pokémon even means? Pokémon, the shorthand version for “Pocket Monsters”, is a franchise created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri. The franchise revolves around games for the game boy, developed by Game Freak, and published by Nintendo.
The game exists in a fictional universe based on areas of coastal Japan, which is inhabited by creatures known as Pokémon. The user plays a young “Pokémon trainer” under the tutelage and guidance of a Professor of Pokémon study. Whilst this is an overarching theme in the world, a second element of the game is battling Pokémon against each other.
The strongest trainers proclaim themselves as “gym leaders” and run their own Pokémon gyms. It is the player’s goal to defeat the 8 strongest gym leaders in their region, as they may then compete against the Elite Four in the Olympics of Pokémon.
Explanation of the Game
The new Pokémon Go’s developers, Niantic, Inc. have transformed the idea Game Freaks originally conceived. The use of Augmented Reality features on modern smartphones enables players to search their own world to find their favourite Pokémon. Borrowing the style of another app titled “Ingress”, Gyms, locations and most importantly, Pokémon, are placed using Google Maps information. Traveling and working together with players is heavily incentivised as it quickens progression.
The Potential Issues
Released as of the 6th of July, Pokémon Go personifies the expression “hit the ground running”. On day one, rumours were present at a pub in Civic, Canberra, of police having to disperse a crowd of Pokémon Go punters, who were crowding in an alleyway to catch a rare Pokémon.
Firstly, it’s the law’s duty to ensure that crimes are stopped and the public remains safe. Witnessing a suspicious gathering would likely draw police attention. Since the rumoured event in Civic, police have acclimatized to the presence of Pokémon Go punters. Chris Marshall of ACT posted on the ‘Pokémon Go Canberra’ Facebook page on the 8th of July: “Just got approached by the cops out the front of [a pizza restaurant] in gunners. They think it’s hilarious.”
Experiences of positive police interactions similar to Chris Marshall’s suggest that Pokémon Go will not be demonized by the law.
The second issue relates to players being put in one of three teams: Instinct, Mystic and Valor, which are Yellow, Blue and Red respectively. The game promotes friendly competition between teams over controlling “gyms”. Whilst there have been no reports of violence, or altercations beyond friendly jests, the potential remains.
Thirdly, players need to keep a keen eye on their device to keep on top of catching Pokémon and to look for new notifications. The attention required to monitor the screen, as well as the constant travelling to objectives, raises issues of road safety for motorists and pedestrians alike.
Distraction and poor road etiquette have been a large corner stone of PSAs worldwide. These include warnings about the danger and illegal nature of “Go-ing and Driving”.
The major benefit of Pokémon Go is that it promotes community interaction. From the launch date on the 6th of July, a Pokémon Go group formed on Facebook. This united players to talk about their experiences, organise events and even source information for articles.
“Pokémon Go Canberra” created by Mitchell McInnes, boasts 4,000+ members as of the 12/07. Using the page, players have established “Pokéwalks” where they have come together to socialize and catch Pokémon in teams. These activities are promoted by the game and encourage positive social and physical habits, as connecting with others and physical moving around will both progress your experience with the game.
Owner of local gaming bar “Reload” Jim Andrews, had a great response to the release. “The bar has been completely packed with people making new friends, discuss[ing] the game with each other, and sharing tips on where to find the rare critters. We’re going even further this week – we are hiring a bus this Thursday night with a 60 person capacity to roam around Canberra hitting up all the best spots to catch the rarest Pokémon.”
Pokélures have been effective in attracting crowds to businesses as they lure Pokémon to a location. In Reloads case, it supplied the bar with plenty of foot traffic. Brad Capper did the maths on this great innovation. “If a business spends $100 for 14,500 Pokécoins, they can buy lures for $0.59/lure. $100 gets you 170 lures and 85 hours worth of increased traffic. If you’re a bar in a town/city, this is the greatest investment you can make right now.”
Whilst economics and figures are a great way to sway a crowd, the sense of community and social aspects also reel in audiences. Outside of the competition, many people are using the game to connect with others. Phil Cocker of Canberra posted that “no matter what they say this game rocks. 8am and I’m walking around the lake with my kids looking for water Pokémon! My kids have never wanted to walk around the lake.”
Pokémon Go functions as multifaceted tool, and can attract all demographics whether you’re wishing to compete, collect or connect.
For the people by the people.
Like with all creations, improvements needed to be made. Figures from Mitchell McInnes Facebook Group reveal that members wish to see improvements in game mechanics and functionality, and fixing glitches that ruined the experience.
Other functionality issues include server overloads that have caused issues when logging into the servers. This is a common and fixable problem present in all new games and apps, such as World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Sims 4.
Players are also disappointed with the games deviation from the game boy play style. Originally, you could progress your Pokémon in combat capability by training against adversaries. This “leveling” system has been replaced with a ‘luck of the draw’ system when catching wild Pokémon.
Despite these criticisms, creative feedback is a part of the development process that all games experience. We need to trust that Niantic, Inc. will hunt for feedback to enhance their audiences’ experience, and continue to rock the world with what could be a world-changing game platform.